Mapping Employee Journeys Can Make a Better Workplace
The 42% of organizations that have a customer journey map developed it within the past two years, so it’s getting hot, according to a report from Hanover Research. So if organizations put so much faith into customer journey mapping, shouldn't do the same for their employees, too? Should they use a piece of the customer experience playbook and try to define employee experience moments that matter? And what should be at the core of their efforts?
“While it’s great to consider ‘moments that matter’ across the employee journey, this can often turn into an organization or HR-centric exercise if teams are not careful with their approach,” said Ben Whitter, CEO of London-based HEX Organization, which provides guidance and insights on employee experience. “You can see this from language that practitioners or consultants use: it becomes less about human beings and much more about some kind of shoehorned corporate identity that will never be anything more than aspirational.”
Thinking Holistically, Getting a Grip on the Employee Journey
Colleagues charged with designing new or upgraded employee experiences perform at their best when they think and lead holistically with empathy and compassion for the whole human being, according to Whitter. They co-create employee journeys with their people, he added, and their projects are far more successful as a direct result.
“Big challenges will present themselves that sometimes make people look the other way, and positive outcomes will be missed because of collaboration, ownership or accountability issues,” Whitter said. “The key is to get to grips with the journey and all the challenges and pain points that materialize. Often, we’ll have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.”
Defining an Employee Experience Philosophy
Employee journey maps allow organizations to put“the employee experience in a visual format,” according to a blog post this month from Perficient. “We are visual creatures, and having the entire employee experience right in front of you will be beneficial in identifying all the steps in your employee journey.”
One believer in employee journey mapping is Wayne Bush, whose title should clue you in. Bush is the vice president and global employee journey owner for global cosmetics company Nu Skin Enterprises.
Employee experience within the company is a journey that extends from recruitment to the exit interview and alumni affairs, Bush said. Of course, not all employees go through a company that gracefully, but Bush and his teams are constantly mapping and analyzing employee experiences and employee touch points during their tenures.
“We look at this through layers or levels of employee experience,” Bush said. “What's the philosophy around our employee experience? What's the culture that supports it? How do we hold people accountable for what are they responsible for? And then how do we measure it?”
Nu Skin centers its philosophy for customers around the tagline “discovering the best you,” and it also does so for employees, Bush said. “That’s our employee experience philosophy,” Bush added. “It starts with the first touch point from a potential recruit. So how do we attract and recruit. Then it’s onto onboard, engage, manage that relationship through performance management and other ways, feedback, coach, develop, exit and then become an alumni as an employee.”
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Establishing Employee Personas
Nu Skin employee experience teams also develop employee personas. A recent college graduate has different needs than a first time people manager or an established professional that's an individual contributor who has deep expertise in their craft, or an experienced manager, according to Bush. “Across that employee lifecycle,” he said, “we want to understand those experiences and how they change and what those needs are.”
No matter what the persona, each employee is measured against personal objectives that tie into business priorities within the organization. “We go through business planning to identify what those top priorities are, but then we want to have a clear line of sight where each individual has their own individual objectives linked to team objectives, linked to market or functional objectives, and linked to the company priorities,” Bush said. “And as we drive that line of sight, we can then ensure that there's accountability for every individual."
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And there's an element of reciprocity. It's not just about what the employee is asking for, according to Bush. “We want to deliver on their needs,” he said. “But we want to also instill this sense that it is reciprocal. We provide an opportunity, but you contribute your best efforts, and your best efforts are directed to those things are most important for our customers and for the business.”
And of course, no good employee journey or employee experience program comes without feedback and measurement of the actual programs. Nu Skin looks at employee engagement scores, does quarterly surveys and measures how employees feel against their layers of employee experience.
“It all starts with how we want to be a force for good in the world,” Bush said. “That's the overarching piece of our culture. Those are foundational elements of our values in our culture that need to come to life. And so as we measure, we not only think about how we deliver on the work, we also look at how we go about doing that and how it is all embedded in those ‘Nu Skin way’ principles.”
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Connection to Company Values Cannot Be Omitted
A “quite unfathomable omission” from many HR or EX employee journey projects is the connection to the consumer brand. Not bringing the outside in, and ensuring the work on the employee journey reflects the organization’s truth — its purpose, mission and values — is a critical mistake, according to Whitter.
“What companies stand for in the marketplace and in society will need to be abundantly clear across the employee journey, too,” Whitter said. “Anything less is fake news as we have seen from some shambolic workplace culture performances of certain companies during the pandemic. This matters now more than ever before so firms need to be expertly weaving in authentic experiences that brings their truth to life within the employee journey. It is fascinating just how many of the big consulting firms that are advising corporates actually miss this point, too. It’s an expensive problem and one that could seriously take people and companies off in the wrong direction.”
Consider the Human Dimension
It would serve companies well to think beyond the employee and into the human dimension, Whitter said. “This is all we have. Our humanity. It doesn’t stop when we go to work,” he said. “This is why if we are really considering employee journeys in the right way, we will be thoughtful and considerate about the entire human experience. Our roles, responsibilities, and experiences in life.”
It can be transformative in how we approach this important work because, Whitter added, we will be designing around the whole human-being. It builds trust, respect and productivity, but it also creates a kind of loyalty that is out of reach to the average company.
“In 2020, this is how winning gets done,” Whitter said. “Being a trustworthy and truthful employer has never been so fashionable and exceptional yet it remains a path less travelled by many. For that reason, human-centred and experience-driven companies continue to stand out for the right reasons and make a profound impact in the world.”